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UK returns to recession in first quarter on building slump




The UK economy shrank in the first quarter as construction output slumped, pushing Britain into its first double-dip recession since the 1970s.

Gross domestic product contracted 0.2 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, when it shrank 0.3 per cent, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday in London. The median of 40 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for a gain of 0.1 per cent. A technical recession is defined as two straight quarters of contraction.

The report will heap further pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron as he faces criticism of his budget cuts and questions about the relationship between senior government ministers and News Corp. It comes at a time when prospects are dimming in the euro region, Britain’s biggest export market.
“This isn’t supportive of the fiscal consolidation program, so the government is likely to be concerned about that,” said Philip Rush, an economist at Nomura International in London. “The data were bad, and that supports the view that the Bank of England will do a final £25 billion of quantitative easing in May.”

The pound fell more than 0.3 per cent against the dollar after the report and was trading at $1.6095 as of 9.46 am in London, down 0.3 per cent on the day.

The economy was unchanged from a year earlier, the statistics office said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 31 economists was 0.3 per cent growth.

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